The Brothers of Baker Street by Michael Robertson

Review by Chris Redmond

It's not common for a sequel to be better than the original, but it does happen — as indeed it did with Arthur Conan Doyle, who learned a great deal about storytelling from his sloppy first Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet, and did so much better with the second one, The Sign of the Four. The same is clearly true for Michael Robertson, whose light-hearted mystery The Brothers of Baker Street is much better plotted and told than his earlier book about the same duo of London barristers, The Baker Street Letters.

Much of the first book took place in Los Angeles, but Robertson, who according to the book-jacket "lives in southern California," restricts the action to London this time; that in itself appeals to Sherlockians, even if there is some nagging doubt that he understands the iconic "black cab" industry as well as his plot demands that he should. The narrative also makes a bit more use of Robertson's clever initial gimmick: his central characters are a pair of not-very-successful lawyers who sublet office space on Baker Street from "Dorset House" (a thinly disguised Abbey National Building Society) and thus inherit the responsibility for answering Sherlock Holmes's mail. That there just happens to be an unbalanced person out there who claims to be a direct descendant of the unfairly maligned Professor Moriarty is, for the author of a book like this, more or less inevitable.

The Brothers of Baker Street doesn't add anything to a Sherlockian's store of knowledge or wisdom, but it's pleasant light reading. There is almost sure to be a third book, and perhaps we can hope that it will bring greater Sherlockian complexity in the plot, which will be even more satisfying.